Month: November 2019

Pneumonia is a major threat to public health – why don’t we acknowledge the fact?

(Image by kalhh from Pixabay, CC0 license) According to the 2017 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study, pneumonia remains the leading cause of death among children under the age of five, in spite of a 36% reduction in pneumonia-related deaths in this population in the last ten years. In the same period, adults aged over 70 years presented a 34% increase in deaths due to pneumonia. Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) remains the most frequent cause of pneumonia and also the main killer in both children and adults. Little is known about pneumonia’s on the health of...

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A groovy kind of protein?

Fig 1: Lipids phase separate into hydrophobic bilayers Lipids are insoluble in water, so they are synthesized in a membrane bilayer that makes a separate phase, like a layer of oil forming on water (Figure 1). Since most lipid-synthesizing enzymes are localised to just one membrane, the endoplasmic reticulum in eukaryotic cells or the inner membrane of bacteria, there is a major question: how can lipids transfer to another membrane? A method that might work on the face of it is traffic of vesicles made from membrane patches. However, the data do not support this. Traffic of vesicles in...

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Echo chambers and polarization may not be the same phenomenon in social media

Image by ar130405 from Pixabay, CC0 When are echo chambers harmful? The presence of echo chambers may seem synonymous with their potential ill effects. Existence of echo chambers indicates a polarized state of the society concerning beliefs regarding a given topic. A social network becomes polarized when several communities exist with differing beliefs. Such communities are termed as echo chambers when people within each community of beliefs communicate mostly only with others having similar beliefs. However, increase in the “intensity of echo chamber phenomenon” does not necessarily translate to an increase in the “intensity of polarization”. Credibility of information...

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Parasitic and fungal infections play a significant role in porpoise strandings

Harbour porpoise Ecomare/ Salko de Wolf Porpoises are aquatic mammals belonging to the toothed whale family. They look similar to dolphins but can be distinguished by the shape of their noses (dolphins have beak-like noses), teeth (porpoises have spade shaped teeth) and their fins (porpoises have triangular dorsal fins as opposed to the hook shaped fins of the dolphin). Cetacean strandings in the UK from 1913 to 2015 Natural History Museum Harbour porpoises are one of six porpoise species and, as you might expect from the name, live close to shorelines. They are relatively small – making them targets...

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What happens to people who inject drugs after surgery for a heart valve infection?

People who inject drugs face many health challenges. Aside from the highly publicized overdose epidemic, people who inject drugs are at risk for several infectious diseases due to the unsterile nature of injecting drugs. These infections range from hepatitis C and HIV to bacterial and fungal infections. Some infections are limited to the skin, like abscesses. Other more serious infections occur when bacteria or fungus penetrate deeper into the blood stream. When these infections get into the blood stream, they have the potential to infect bones, the central nervous system or the heart, among many other sites. When the...

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